Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Since You Asked

Rate this book
A humorous, debut novel about a Korean-American teenager who accidentally lands her own column in her high school newspaper, and proceeds to rant her way through the school year while struggling to reconcile the traditional Korean values of her parents with contemporary American culture.

262 pages, Hardcover

First published June 25, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Maurene Goo

36 books1,477 followers
Maurene Goo is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE and THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and cat, Maeby.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
136 (16%)
4 stars
211 (25%)
3 stars
313 (38%)
2 stars
114 (13%)
1 star
43 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 238 reviews
Profile Image for CeJayCe.
93 reviews52 followers
August 3, 2015
Flat. Disappointing. Annoying. PASS.

Holly is a stuck-up, whiny, stereotypical teenage brat. She thinks she knows everything, everyone else is so lame, her parents are the worst people to ever undertake the task of parenting, and high school totally sucks. Holly fulfills every aspect of the teenage girl stereotype. It was so impossible to have sympathy for her as she complained about going to Las Vegas for Christmas and whined about being given money to buy her own Christmas presents.

Her dialogue wasn't the least bit believable. Every other sentence ended in an exclamation point, giving me the impression that she screamed all the time. As far as her column goes...who the hell are we kidding? Maybe 10% of the book focused on Holly's role with the whole school newspaper thing. And the columns were not only stupid, but she used them like a freakin' diary:

This has to be a joke - I mean, who in the world likes me that much? Making a mockery of me? That I understand...

Who uses their school newspaper column to speculate about their secret admirer? And in keeping with the stereotypical profile of Holly, she hates Valentine's Day and proceeds to spew the boring spiel about it being a commercial ploy that everyone has heard from bitter, single people.

Now I'm writing like Holly. Judging the crap out of people for no real reason.

This book was your run-of-the-mill high school novel. Handsome jock boy, popular bitchy girls, geeks, and the main characters, who naturally aren't supposed to fall into a category. I felt like the initial turn the book took with the whole Homecoming Court elections, although a used plot, would've been mildly interesting. Especially if something had ever been done about the whole election being fixed. But no, that plot-line was dropped almost as quickly as it started, and it was replaced with something so boring I don't even really recall what it was...Keep in mind, I literally finished this book about 20 minutes ago, so that's really saying something. As short as this book was, it was too long. I would've preferred if it had wrapped up at the Battle of the Bands. Everything after that point felt tacked-on and unnecessary.
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews379 followers
January 24, 2018
Let me preface by saying this book was pretty fun. Sadly it suffered from a really bad case of terrible writing. Not only was the plot itself incredibly disjointed, it contains a lot of !!! multiple !!! exclamation !!! marks, among many othor odd editing choices.

I am definitely still interested in reading more from Maurene Goo, as I have high hopes her subsequent books have improved!
Profile Image for Lisseth (Read-a-holicZ).
179 reviews69 followers
July 5, 2013

4.5 Stars: Since You Asked was Laugh Out Loud HILARIOUS, entertaining, and enchanting book. It's full of great characters, friendship, family, and a girl who needs to answer our questions, one sarcastic-realistic column at a time ;)

When I heard about Since You Asked I was already sold on reading it. Why? Korean girl *never read about a girl in a Korean family* whom lands a newspaper column by accident?! Yeah I want to read and it said it was humorous, you know i love a good laugh :) I remember the reading the first page and literally spitting out in laughter! I woke my sister up but I had to read it to her *so we could both laugh*
"GIRLS!" mom hollered from the bathroom.

"WHAT? You're the one who makes us drink this every morning! Don't you know Asians are naturally lactose intolerant! I hollered back. - Holly page 2!

and that was just the start. Throughout the entire novel I found great sarcastic or funny quotes on almost EVERY PAGE! It was crazy how many bookmarks I have on the book but it seriously surprised me in the funny department. It also helped that Holly was SO defiant, and sarcastic. She was like every teen, she wants to be her own self but is kinda limited by her traditional korean family *whom is crazy & fun*.

And that's where Holly's friends Carrie, David, and Liz come in. I have never wanted to steal friends as much as I have in this book. Holly's friends are such an eclectic group. Carrie's the daughter of hippies, hence her being a hippie :) Then there was David, who was chinese-irish X_X Can I just say I may have developed a book crush on him! He's like a hipster, smarty pants, beanie wearing skateboarder. Then there's Liz, super rich and model gorgeous yet she hates the populars at school and acts snobbish but as Holly said, "You have to get to know her and you can get past the snobby" LOL, but in the end THEY ALL GREW ON ME! I got so excited when they were all together and hung out because they were a fun and entertaining bunch :D

Now Holly get's this spot on the paper *by accident* she's actually a copyeditor and she was checking over a piece and got bored. So what does she do? SHE HOLLY-FY'S IT! She makes it into a sarcastic and realistic letter to the entire school O.O YEAH, CAN YOU SAY KILL ME! Well since she didn't get into *too much* trouble she's offered to do more! And does she. She really lets it rip and what i loved about this wasn that we got to read her columns and there were even "Letters to the Editor" pages COOL! There were also drawings and pictures :3

There was a smidge of romance in the, I'm your secret stalker admirer way! it was cute but at the same time SO frustrating because you think it's this guy, but OH WAIT! I could be that guy >_< There were 3 possible guys, 2 she knew and 1 she hadn't known. Each one was giving hints or being flirtish but in the end it wasn't ANY of them and that was like...

OVERALL: This was such an EPIC tale of a girl growing up in a strict Korean house with fun friends and learning that it's okay to speak your mind. If you want a book to take to the beach, THIS ONE IS IT! You'll literally be laughing and wanting to share your book with someone. I LOVED it and will HAVE to read more by the fabulous Maureen Goo! YOU MUST READ THIS...or else....O.O
Profile Image for Amy.
2,578 reviews401 followers
March 15, 2019
I needed something seriously good to break my streak of 1-star reads (I mean, four 1 stars in a row? Ugh!) and this book was it! Objectively, I know it isn't 5 star material. Especially initially, I was pretty set on 2 stars. It really feels like the author's first book and not in a good way.
But I absolutely love Maurene Goo. She could probably write an encyclopedia entry and I'd love it. And in the end, I absolutely loved the last three-fourths of this book. So, entirely subjectively, 5 stars because this book made me laugh and smile and giggle and in general just feel...happy.
This is why I read YA.
I love this book for the snarky heroine, the tight friend group, and the lack of any overarching plot. I know that sounds weird but it goes to why this book charmed me so much. It relies on day to day, month to month scenes that seem to go nowhere in the sense that they don't tie in much by the end and yet somehow tell a cohesive story. For example, the heroine goes to a ballet class in one chapter. It gets mentioned once before and once after. But in general it is not really important. And yet the scene itself powerfully captures what it feels like to be new and awkward. It captures sensing the beauty of something even while feeling like a fool for trying. And it captures the strength it takes to go back and not care what others think.
If the author then tried to make ballet a motif for the heroine's life or something, I think it would have lost its appeal. But that one, powerful chapter conveys what it needs to and steps aside for the next scene and the next.
Holly is angsty, and y'all know how I feel about angst. But this is the kind of angst I get. It is the angst of being a teenager and fighting with your parents but it is an angst that fades with time. Holly might not realize it. Her parents might not realize it. Yet a wise character who appears for just a chapter and doesn't get mentioned again does realize it and says as much. It was easy as a reader to appreciate and engage with Holly's feelings without being bowled over by them because this self-awareness exists within the plot.
I really like that the story doesn't focus on romance. Oh, it is an undercurrent like everything else. But it isn't super important. Like ballet, like the cousin who appears and disappears within a chapter, like most things in this story, it subtly reflects a truth without banging the reader over the head with it.
Finally, I really like the pacing of this novel. Several predictable high school activities take place and scenes that I expected to become the big movers end up falling almost anti-climatically. But because they fall anticlimactically, they give the more mundane scenes room to shine. I love that the ending does not wrap everything up. It leaves the reader wanting more without needing more. And in a world of cliff-hanger endings, that is a breath of fresh air.
I gave several popular novels 1-star recently for not connecting with me even though I recognized what made them popular. Well, this book falls on the other end of that spectrum. I understand why not everyone would love this one. But for me, it tuned in perfectly to what I love in a YA novel and managed to subvert the genre by creating a self-aware story without necessarily a self-aware heroine.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews126k followers
April 4, 2017
This hilarious YA novel follows fifteen-year-old Holly, a Korean-American girl trying to navigate her friends’ laid back attitudes and her traditional parents’ expectations. It’s framed by her monthly school newspaper column which basically trashes the things most of the school cares about. The scrapes Holly gets into, along with a hilarious teenage voice, kept me cracking up the entire time I was reading. This book has been on my TBR forever, now I can’t wait to get my hands on my books by Maurene Goo!

— Alison Doherty

from The Best Books We Read In January 2017: http://bookriot.com/2017/02/01/riot-r...
Profile Image for Ruby Rose.
269 reviews72 followers
January 15, 2021
It. Is. Finally. Over.

Not to be rude or anything to this amazing author, but I expected more from this book based on the other books I had read from her.

Yes! This is her first novel! No. It wasn't as good as her others. Yes! It held me captivated in the moment! No. I didn't go to the car at night to get it when I accidentally left it out there. I just read another book.

TO ANYONE LOOKING FOR A GOOD ROMANCE NOVEL! This one had underlying romance themes, but Even her crush And her other best friend

I would love to help you find one!

Yes, I LOVED the sarcastic comments, and how Holly seemed to have her own personality, different from those girls in other books who seem like drones. Transitioning from one book to the next.

RANDOM thought, does anyone know any good Dystopias, or Romances that have a red headed main character? I would be eternally grateful.

I do recommend any Maureen Goo books other than this one that I have read. Or I would read this one just for the sarcastic comments.

The one big thing that I enjoy about Maureen Goo books is that all the ones I have read so far have been Korean-American, and I love to see different perspectives.

Anyways, I need to get some other reviews done so I hope you enjoyed!

AGE RECOMMENDATION: 5/10 for underage drinking (Check my profile for how I rate).

I hope you enjoyed my review! Follow me for more like this. Happy Reading! -Ruby Rose
Profile Image for Amber.
58 reviews
August 8, 2013
When Holly Kim, copyeditor for her high school newspaper, accidentally submits an article full of her honest opinions about her high school, she gets her own column instead of punishment. Holly rants and raves about what bothers her and tries to find balance between being known for speaking her mind, keeping her Korean family’s values, and trying to survive high school.

I had really high hopes for this book!

I thought the cover and title were cute. I loved the premise. Scholastic Inc. published it. It had all the great makings of a great read.

Yeah, not so much.

The characters were all, well, caricatures. They were all annoying and over the top. All of the dialogue felt forced or unnecessary. Holly Kim, the main character is barely likeable. The book reads like someone in middle school wrote it. I am honestly surprised it was published.

I kept reading, hoping it would get better, but it never did. I thought, when Holly got to write her own column, that I was in for some insightful or poignant observations about life in high school or being Korean-American. No. When she got a tip-off that the student government might be rigging the homecoming court election, I thought she would use journalism to expose her school’s underground politics. No. I thought there might be some swoon-worthy moments with her secret admirer. No. I thought that when Holly suffered through her Korean family's unique Christmas traditions, she'd find value in family or her culture. No.

The plot lines are never developed.


Goo tries too hard to be funny and tongue-in-cheek. From this book, I seriously doubt her chops as a writer, especially one in the YA genre.

Overall, I found the book a huge disappointment and a real struggle to read.

Read more of my reviews (of books I actually like) at http://shelfmadegirl.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for Lilly.
418 reviews141 followers
July 16, 2013
Smart, funny, well-written YA that kept me, an adult with a life, hooked from start to finish. The author perfectly captures the high school experience (let's be honest: many try, most fail). The highs, the lows, the stereotypes, and the unexpected surprises that make it such a fun time in life. Holly is a great protagonist; for me, her witty columns are a highlight of the book and modestly showcase Goo's great talent. So impressed that this is a debut!
Profile Image for Christine.
137 reviews22 followers
July 31, 2013
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When was the last time you read a laugh out loud, can't stop reading, contemporary YA about a rebellious teenager living in a very traditional home? I thought about that after I read SINCE YOU ASKED. It literally has been years since I've read a book that has made me laugh as hard as this book has.

The summary on the book does a pretty awesome job at telling you what this is about. Holly is a hysterically sarcastic teenager just trying to survive her sophomore year of high school, and survive living with her very traditional, no-nonsense mother. What started off as a way to pass the time, Holly now has a column in the newspaper where she goes on and on about what is wrong with teenagers these days. She covers everything from the homecoming court to Thanksgiving to summer expectations. Her column is awesome and I would've loved reading something like that in my school newspaper.

One of the best parts about this book is the structure of the writing. Not only do you get the typical chapter style narration, but you also get to see Holly's column, the mysterious love notes she receives from an admirer, and her own doodling, albeit copyedits or a seating chart. I thought including these things really added to the overall feel of the novel. So you get to read about Holly's year in high school and feel like you are right there with her as she's going through life.

Holly was great. She said everything that I thought when I was in high school. Goo's ability to make her characters realistic is impeccable. I have quite the sarcastic dry humor myself, so I instantly connected with Holly. The secondary characters were great, as well. They all were completely different from one another but together they were a group of friends that I would love to have. Their personalities, while opposite, complemented each other nicely. They always stick up for one another and even if they get in fights, they know they could never stay mad for too long.

I loved how the book didn't just focus on Holly's new-found journalism hobby. While the story was a light, fast read, you still get to experience some deeper issues like Holly's struggle to be something her parents are proud of while still keeping her individuality. Growing up in a traditional Korean household is not something Holly resents but something that sort of clashes with her rebellious spirit. It's all about balance. Holly has to learn to how to still be herself but while keeping her parents and their way of life happy. It also touches on the issue of not judging a book by the cover. You can't always assume how a person truly is unless you sit down and try to get to know them.

If you're looking for a fun, fast read with enjoyable characters, I highly recommend this book! Maurene knows how to create a story that you'll eagerly gobble up in just a couple of sittings. You'll love Holly's witty sense of humor and how unafraid she is of being completely blunt. Filled to the brim with pop-culture references, realistic truths, and lots of teenage angst, you can't help but wish you went to school with Holly and her friends!

This review can be found at: The Bookish Daydreamer
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,650 followers
December 3, 2019
The kids at school may not have asked for Holly to write a column in the school newspaper, but Since You Asked is just the sort of YA novel I have been asking for. I picked it up solely for the premise about a Korean-American girl, but found even more to enjoy in this fluffy, sweet read, set in a high school that’s much more like the one I went to back in the day. Maurene’s debut novel is a humorous delight and one that avoids typical YA tropes.

Read the full review at A Reader of Fictions.
Profile Image for  Lori (Ficwishes).
686 reviews19 followers
July 27, 2013
That summary, while not very exciting, is actually what got me to read the book. My husband's mother is a Korean-American and that was enough to convince me that I needed this story in my life.

Holly Kim is less than thrilled with her life. Her Korean-American parents tend to be over-bearing and, at least in Holly's mind, completely unreasonable. Why does her family think that Christmas should be celebrated in Las Vegas? Holly really would like to celebrate a tradition American Christmas just once.

(I laughed out loud many times while reading about Holly's family. My husband made me read those parts aloud to him. He even said that he thinks he and Holly may actually share the same mother.)

While not outcasts, Holly and her group of friends are not exactly what you could call popular.

First there is Carrie, who's hippie-chic parents seem so laid back and if it wasn't for their dinners of chard and tempeh, Holly would consider them perfect. Carrie, like Holly tends to dress for comfort, not impressing others. She's an "energetic ball of klutziness trapped inside a petite athletic build."

Next is Liz. Her Persian parents not only are wealthy and give Liz everything she could possibly want, they try to embrace American traditions with whole-hearted enthusiasm. Liz could totally fit in with the popular crowd, but she sought out Carrie and Holly because she was sick of the Barbie dolls.

David rounds out the friendship quartet. He is half Chinese and he understands many of Holly's parents' rules and prejudices. The written descriptions of David are not very flattering, like maybe he was trying a little too hard, but I still liked him best of all.

I spun around to see David rolling up on his trusty skateboard. Tall and lanky (I swear he grew a foot over the summer), he wore a knit beanie pulled over his mop of brown hair and a pair of Ray Bans.
"Wow. Uh, nice shades," I said.
He grinned. "I'm trying out a new look. I'm hoping it'll discourage people from talking to me this year. Do I look standoffish?"
"No, you look douche-offish."

The friendship between these four is fantastic. They are loyal and stand up for each other, encouraging one another in their endeavors whether it be ballet (Liz), Battle of the Bands (Carrie and David), or almost getting arrested for under-age holding-of-a-beer (Holly).

Through a funny accident, Holly earns a column in the school newspaper she calls "Since You Asked... There she "barfs" her opinions every month and feels very smug about it. To her horror, Holly is assigned to do the feature on Matthew Reynolds, popular jock, and king of the rich and entitled.

After witnessing Matthew in his home environment, Holly and Matthew strike up a tentative friendship that is looked on with wonderment and a little disdain by both of their groups of friends. Holly's traitorous heart seems to flip flop every time she hears Matthew call her "Holly K".

Since You Asked... is a fun story of friendship and family with hints of romance. I enjoyed the author's writing style. The language felt just right for a group of fifteen year-olds without it feeling like the author was trying to throw in too many teen-isms. Also, normally I'm the type of gal that likes more than just a hint of romance, but I l liked this story just the way it is.

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic Inc for providing an ARC for a fair and honest review. - See more at: http://ficwishes.blogspot.com/2013/07...

Check out my published content!
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,639 reviews161 followers
December 3, 2019
"I never keep my mouth shut,"I said.

Meh. I think this was maybe a cute... but maybe just not for me.
I didn't find the main character witty and edgy. I found her to be unpleasant. She was grumpy and awful to just about everyone. Sure, I know teens are moody - but this girl was generally unpleasant most of the time. She gave dirty looks and awful quips and talked back to everyone.

I'm also not sure this one ages well - it doesn't include any of the on-line dramas that most kids face these days - like push messages threatening to blow up schools broadcast anonymously through apps in classrooms, the violence in most high schools, the extra pages made of school sites on twitter or snapchat bullying students.

This is a light, cute read and I'd say maybe closer to middle school than high school.
Profile Image for Sab.
299 reviews91 followers
July 30, 2013
Check out The Maurene Goo Three Blog Hop and enter the giveaway for a chance to win lots of great prizes!

Story. Of. My life. Maurene Goo couldn't have made a better protagonist. I'm not sure if it's my Asian tendencies (whatever that is hah) or that I can still remember what it felt like to be fifteen. Either way, I could easily relate to Holly and that made reading Since You Asked twice as enjoyable. The humor alone was enough to keep me interested but with a main character like Holly, everything was so much more hilarious.

The story follows Holly Kim, a fifteen year old Korean-American, who lands her own column in the school newspaper after accidentally submitting an article which added her own snarky flair to. The story takes place within the span of a whole school year where Holly and her equally sarcastic but funny friends try to survive their sophomore year. In the columns that Holly writes, she contemplates on the mundane school events and things teenagers typically go through.

I absolutely love how real Holly is. Yes, she’s always sarcastic and snarky but truth be told it’s only common among teenagers, especially fifteen year olds. It’s the early years of being a teenager where there’s way too much angst – the awkward years where you feel so misunderstood and you constantly feel so angry at your parents (oh the drama!). Holly’s definitely the epitome of a typical teenager. She’s the kind of teenager who’s more inclined to observe than to participate because she’s neither a total outcast nor a popular kid so she’s somewhere in the middle of things. A lot of times I laughed out loud at all of Holly’s thoughts about highschool because it felt like something I said or would’ve said six years ago (oh my god. SIX years ago?!). Aside from that, I enjoyed Holly’s Korean family dynamics because a lot of it is something that I could definitely relate too, me being Asian and all. It was funny how Holly and her friends described the most mundane, weird or frustrating things she went through with their own brand of humor.

I also liked how varied the events in the book were given that the story happens within a whole school year and yet it didn’t feel so crammed. I liked the overall flow of the story as well as how Holly’s insightful and witty monthly columns summed every season up. There’s also this one side story that leaves a hint of romance and possibly even a sequel….? *grins* I personally would like to see how that’ll pan out so I hope this isn’t the end for Holly and her friends. An overall entertaining and light read from start to finish, Since You Asked is a great debut from a promising writer.

(I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review is based solely on my opinion)
Profile Image for Nina.
15 reviews
July 19, 2013
Since You Asked(ARC) by Maurene Goo

Since You Asked,Maurene Goo,arc

"A humorous, debut novel about a Korean-American teenager who accidentally lands her own column in her high school newspaper, and proceeds to rant her way through the school year while struggling to reconcile the traditional Korean values of her parents with contemporary American culture."

Since You Asked(ARC) by Maurene Goo
262 pages

If the summary up there doesn't interest you, then I don't know what will.

Holly Kim is a realistic, albeit very dramatic at times, sopohmore in high school. Like any other student with strict parents, Holly has been forced to maintain straight A's and to stay off the radar of the school's cliche pyramid of popularity. She's also part of The Weasel Times, her school's newspaper. One very boring day, Holly basically rewrites a whole entire article and chaos ensues.
Not without the help of her three best friends, of course.

From writing her column to hanging out with her friends, Holly has a lot to work with. What happens when she can't make everyone happy with her snarky articles?

Hey, let's not forget that Holly has to deal with secret admirers, Thanksgiving dinner, and big misunderstandings. Holly deals with all of these events and more while living out her everyday life of a student.

I could barely put this book down, let alone not give it 5 of 5 stars!

Maureen Goo has created a humorous, realistic story with quirky characters and moment-ruining guys that you'll absolutely love! I mean, there are mother to daughter arguments every so often that get a bit over-the-top, but there are also those moments where you just have to close the book and sort of making a dying whale sound. In a good way, of course.

I love how Holly eventually uses her column and changes the way everyone starts thinking about things in their everyday school life. Holly battles unjust systems within her school, is forced to do things she'd never do otherwise, and is basically experiences life. She slowly becomes more of herself and she starts taking a bit more risks, regardless of the problems ahead. A bit dauntless, but what's life without some risks?

Now I just have to go to the nearest book store and buy this whenever I get the chance!
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
June 8, 2013
Sophomore Holly Kim attends Bay High School in San Diego, and she is largely ignored by the rest of her classmates until a newspaper piece she revised as a joke and filled with snarky comments is published. Suddenly, everyone knows Holly. She gets to write a regular column and feature stories as part of her journalism class. Some classmates applaud her outspoken writing while others dismiss her comments about homecoming, holidays, and the school's social order. Through it all, her friends, Carrie, David, and Liz, remain loyal to Holly while she wonders whether her initial assumptions about Matthew, the school golden god, are accurate. I enjoyed the columns that are interspersed through the narrative about this Korean-American girl as she struggles to figure out exactly who she is and what she wants. Teen readers will relate to the constant battles between Holly and her mother and applaud her for speaking out about some of the rituals associated with high school. But as I read the book, I felt somewhat disappointed that there weren't more columns tackling the issues at school and that she sometimes seemed to put down romance and socializing simply because they weren't a part of her life yet. It might have helped to have her mother's perspective explored a bit more or for Holly to do more than just grow angry at her expectations. Even though there are loose ends and unresolved issues at the book's conclusion that left me feeling a bit annoyed and/or disconcerted, I enjoyed reading this book and was amused by Holly's antics. I look forward to more from this debut author who clearly knows high school quite well. The positive message gleaned from her busy year of writing, figuring out high school, and even taking a ballet class is important: It's the experience that matters and not whether you are the best at what you do. Don't avoid something out of fear that you won't do it well. That's a great reminder for all of us.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,101 reviews130 followers
July 31, 2013
I love the concept behind this story. (Holly writes a joke article blasting high school and that article accidentally gets published in the school paper. Not surprisingly, a lot of people do NOT think it's at all funny...but what IS surprising is the fact that she ends up getting a monthly column in the same paper.)

Holly is incredibly sarcastic. On a scale of one to 10, where one is Pollyanna and 10 is some unholy combination of Veronica Mars, Veronica Sawyer, Daria and Lorelai Gilmore, she's probably a 9.5. Sarcastic people are my people but there are times that Holly was a little much. (Part of that is because she's such a teenage girl and incredibly moody, so it's highly possible that part of this is because I've become an utter curmudgeon and want her to just grow up and quit complaining about everything all the damn time.)

I don't want it to sound like I disliked Holly, because I didn't. I actually pretty much WAS Holly in high school (except not Korean)---so much so that at my own high school paper, I received the Daria Award my senior year. I believe it was meant to be an insult; I wore that with pride.

And there's a lot to admire about Holly. She's unapologetically herself and that's rare anywhere but especially in high school, where the whole point is to blend in and not be noticed for any reason.

Ultimately, this is an incredibly fun story. Recommended.
Profile Image for Jill.
98 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2013
Such a great, fun summer read. What I really love is that the protagonist is relatable--which is seemingly harder and harder to find in YA. Holly, the main character, doesn't have any superpowers, she doesn't come from a picture-perfect family, and she isn't the most popular girl in school. It's so refreshing that she has a point of view on high school crap (yep, she's over it) and is smart and insightful. When she gets a platform to rant publicly (in the form of a column in her school paper), you have to root for her. The book has a lot of hilarious moments, especially with Holly's family, and it'll make you miss being a teenager AND also grateful that those years are over. The ending may leave you wanting a little more closure but to me that says ... a sequel may be in the cards for Goo and Holly? Hope so!
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,395 followers
March 2, 2014
2.5 stars. This was a humorously written and diversely casted...I don't even know what. Like, was there supposed to be a story? I'm not sure? I think it was just about a funny girl writing newspaper articles and hanging out with her family and friends, and occasionally stuff happened that had very little to do with other stuff that happened, I guess? I...don't even know what to say. But I liked the peeks into Korean culture, and the voice was fun - I just wish there'd been a plot.
Profile Image for Celeste_pewter.
593 reviews147 followers
June 21, 2013
Two-second recap: In her debut novel Since You Asked, Maurene Goo bucks a number of current YA trends.

Since You Asked is a hilarious, laugh-out-loud contemporary novel, which will absolutely have readers falling in love with protagonist Holly Kim, and begging for a sequel.


Full review:

Ever since I discovered YA fiction at the tender age of ten, there's one thing that I've always felt was missing from the genre: a YA book with a solid Asian-American heroine.

As someone who's Chinese-American, I wanted a YA book where the character not only looked like me, but could also understand the hilarious (and occasionally bizarre) aspects of growing up in two different cultures.

Over the years, I've been pleased to see a number of excellent Asian heroines gradually make their way into YA. But it wasn't until I read Maurene Goo's Since You Asked, that I felt like I had finally met a heroine who perfectly understood the bizarre, hilarious and rewarding complexities of growing up Asian.

Fifteen-year-old Holly Kim is intelligent and hilarious, but also utterly relatable, as she joins her school paper and snarks her way through the school year. Readers will absolutely fall for her charms, and laugh out loud at her antics.


Things that worked:

As usual, let's start with the bookish things.

* The writing

There's no point in beating around the bush: Maurene is a brilliant writer. She's funny and she's witty, but in a way where the humor feels absolutely universal.

In many ways, Maurene's writing in Since You Asked actually reminded me of another one of my favorite writers: Douglas Adams. She's able to convey the motives of individuals, various life events and even awkward situations in a way where, even though the reader may not have necessarily experienced them, they can still relate to them.

There are a number of things that I can praise about Maurene's writing, but I'll limit it to one:

I was especially impressed with Maurene's willingness to buck the standard structure of a novel in this book. She makes the unique choice of incorporating Holly's physical column, and random tidbits from Holly's mind which really immerses the reader into her world. It can be a risky choice, but it absolutely works in this case.

(You'll just have to find the rest out for yourself, when you get the book!)

* The characterizations

Holly Kim is, in a word, awesome.

She's smart, sassy and funny. She's curious. She likes to ask questions, and she's not afraid to stand up to adults when she doesn't necessarily agree, but she's also paranoid about getting in trouble.

(When she was worrying about getting counseled, I was thinking: "Girl, I am RIGHT THERE with you.")

In many ways, despite the more significant cultural elements which play out throughout the course of the book, Holly is very much an everywoman. Maurene perfectly captures that teenage voice of someone who's trying to figure out who she is, what she enjoys - e.g. her shock at being genuinely good at column writing - and what she wants in life. Readers will absolutely relate to her journey.

I loved the secondary characters as well. They're all well-thought out, and Maurene makes it a point to include the small details - e.g. Liz essentially being the next Audrey Hepburn - that really make them come to life for the reader.

* The world-building

Bear in mind, I grew up in Orange County, so I literally lived a hop and a skip away from where Holly lives in San Diego. So it's an area that I know very, very well.

With that being said, I think that even without my personal knowledge of the area, Maurene's brought Holly's community to life in a realistic, believable way.

She captures all the subtle nuisances of what it means to grow up in So. Cal. - from the fact that Holly's a fan of wearing hoodies and jeans, to the fact that her family vacations in Vegas - (which my family totally did too!) so well, I think readers will genuinely get a sense of how it is to be Holly.

* The family/sibling relationships

I'm a pretty big advocate for family playing an active role in YA literature, because I think it's:

1) true to real life, and moreover,
2) family is one of the primary causes of teenage angst/drama/hilarity in real life. So when you don't have family in a plot, it feels a little weird.

Since You Asked has a rich cast of family characters, who both made me laugh with their antics (especially Holly's grandmother - Korean Kennedys, lol), but also made me think, "Yep. Been there and done that, and totally had my academic scores compared to my cousins like that."

I can almost guarantee that readers will read about Holly's family, and absolutely feel like they're part of the family, and have a seat at the table.

And finally,

* The relationship between Holly and her parents

Holly's relationship with her parents isn't perfect - she's fifteen, and there's bound to be some teenaged shenanigans. But Maurene does a beautiful job of portraying the the ongoing parent-child dynamic in a way that always reinforces the underlying humor and love in all of their interactions.

Even when Holly is rolling her eyes at her mother's decision to badger her to take more honor classes, or when Holly finally admits to her mom that she's wrong (for once), Maurene always approaches these scenes in a way which really emphasizes that at the end of the day, everyone's going to be okay.

Holly will grow older and more mature, while her parents will grow to understand her more. Their interactions are in many ways, subtly shaping the type of person Holly will become, and the type of adult relationship that the three of them will have.

It's a very intelligent and humorous portrayal, and I think that both parents who are seeking to understand their kids more, and younger readers who are figuring how to communicate with their parents better, will all benefit from reading this book.


Things that didn't work/Things to consider:

Nothing. If you look at my reviews, this isn't something I say very often.

Since You Asked absolutely fits together like a puzzle piece. From the plotting, to the characterizations, to the writing, everything works exactly in the right place, and at the right time.

Even the length of the itself is perfect - at a concise 262 pages for the ARC - Goo tells a well-rounded and satisfying story, but also leaves enough out there that readers will want a sequel immediately.

(And based on the tweets I've see, people are already asking.)


Final verdict:

Since You Asked is not only the type of book I wish that I had around when I was younger, but it's also the type of book that I feel will gain a loyal audience in the weeks, months and years to come.

Holly Kim's shenanigans are both hilarious and charming, but there's also a lot of genuine heart in how she deals with her family and her friends, and I think that readers everywhere will absolutely relate to her journey. I only hope that we're lucky enough to read more of Holly's adventures in the future.

(Ahem, Scholastic.)

I recommend this book for fans of YA contemporary, but also for all readers in general.


Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Since You Asked from Scholastic, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! :)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for chloe ♡.
394 reviews264 followers
July 12, 2019
wellllll this one's pretty different from the other maurene goo novels i've read. review to come!
Profile Image for Ashley.
820 reviews13 followers
January 3, 2019
I love Maurene Goo and I have read all her books - this one I DNFd about 30 pages in - I'm sorry but the comments about school shootings just got me angry - there's no reason to joke about something like that in a book ever
Profile Image for Kate McMurry.
Author 1 book79 followers
August 14, 2013
Young adult, multicultural, "clean read" chick lit

Holly is a fifteen-year-old Korean-American whose three best friends are a geeky boy who is Chinese-American, a beautiful, rich girl who is Persian-American, and a Euro-American girl whose parents are hippie types. They attend a public high school in San Diego, and Holly writes a snappy column in her school newspaper about surviving life as a sophomore.

This humorous, chick-lit, multicultural, young-adult novel alternates between Holly's school life and her home life in a large, extended Korean family. Holly has a quite assertive temperament, and she is constantly butting heads with her mother, who is even more forceful and stubborn than Holly. Like most teenagers, Holly is striving to discover her own unique personality and life goals, something that the American culture of individualism strongly encourages. Unfortunately, her mother, as a first-generation immigrant from a country with a more communal approach to life, feels that Holly's desire to be independent is a slap in the face of the values of respect and obedience that her mother prizes.

I had an opportunity some years ago to form friendships with young women who had recently immigrated to the US from Korea and others whose mothers were first-generation Korean immigrants. Based on that experience, from my perspective, the portrayal of Korean-American family life in this novel seems accurately and sympathetically done. I also see some fascinating resemblances in Holly's parents to my own German-American grandparents, who were the offspring of immigrants and who taught values to their children similar to those of Holly's family, loyalty and strong interconnection between the members of their large, extended family of 12 children and over 50 grandchildren. Like Holly's family, we frequently got together to socialize, and my aunts and uncles were a constant support network to each other. As the saying goes, we are a nation of immigrants, and a story like this is a vivid and fascinating reminder to all of us of our own first-generation-American roots.

I found Holly's relationships outside her family to be of great interest as well. Her snarky observations of high school life in general are humorously entertaining, and I really enjoyed her close connections with her three best friends.

This book is G-rated enough for preteens in that it avoids foul language, sexual situations, drinking and drugs. However, I would not therefore assume it is a "middle-grade" novel, as I've noticed some YA reviewers tend to do for any teen novel that is not "gritty" in its subject matter. This is definitely YA fiction, with a story line that is interesting enough that readers of all ages will enjoy it.

I rate this book as follows:
Heroine: 4 stars
Subcharacters: 4 stars
Family Dramedy Plot: 4 stars
School Reporter Plot: 4 stars
Writing: 4 stars
Overall: 4 stars
Profile Image for Stephanie Ward.
1,176 reviews116 followers
July 2, 2013
4.5 Stars

'Since You Asked' is a upbeat and fun young adult contemporary novel that follows the exploits of leading lady Holly Kim, a Korean-American sophomore in high school who makes waves during the first week of school when she accidentally submits a snarky article for the school's newspaper. Throughout the book, Holly and her group of friends experience typical teenage problems - including secret admirers, the stuck up popular crowd, and the issues that come from being a second generation American with immigrant parents.

This was a truly funny debut novel that also deals with some important issues that most teenagers face. Holly is a great main character. She's funny, smart, witty, and a devoted friend and daughter. She and her friends have to deal with the usual teen problems - teachers, school, homework, snotty girls and jerky jocks; but they also have to deal with their immigrant parents' traditional values. Holly's parents are Korean and although she considers herself an American, her parents try to force traditional Korean traditions and values on her. Holly and her friends find themselves in funny and strange predicaments. Holly accidentally gets her own column in the school's newspaper and the reader gets to read her monthly thoughts along with some "Letters to the Editor" from fellow schoolmates. The plot was really lighthearted with some really funny dialogue and situations that had me literally snickering out loud while reading. The writing shows the author's incredible talent and I found it really surprising that this is her debut novel. The book had a fast pace and conversational tone, which made it a really quick read. This is the perfect summer read for fans of YA fiction and an author that you will definitely want to get on your radar!

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Augusta Whittemore.
148 reviews23 followers
June 20, 2018
I'm going to start this by saying, I didn't actually dislike this book like I thought I would. After seeing so many negative reviews, I was starting to wonder.

My main issue: unbelievable dialogue. I never spoke like that in high school, but maybe I had a different experience. Other than that, I'll say this....

*Some aspects of it were cute/funny, like the school commentary that she would have before each chapter :)

*It's true, there's not much of an step by step story here, but I think that's because this book was supposed to be more focused on character growth, and the subtleties of growing up. I don't think it was meant to have that big "wow" moment--it's a slow build, but if you look closely enough, I think the ending is pretty satisfying.

*On the surface, Holly does seem altogether disagreeable. However, I think the role of "uncomfortable teenager" was written pretty well here. She did tend to lash out, but not out of a place of hate or meanness, but rather sadness, frustration and misunderstanding. I can see her feeling bad about the things she mistakenly does, but it's like she can't stop them or understand how to communicate her unhappiness in a more understanding way. The pressure of being a teenager is hard, especially a teenage girl. I was satisfied that the author didn't want to spell everything out for us, and wanted us to make up our own minds of how it ended. I think her actually making an effort to try to talk to her mother, made a world of difference. I would give this book a solid 3/5.
Profile Image for Adriane Marshall.
280 reviews209 followers
May 25, 2013
This looked like one of those boolot that I should love, so I was kind of disappointed at first that it took me so long to get into it. I would say the first third of the book I was reading thinking, oh no…. But then, flip the switch, sound the horns… I started loving it!

Holly is great. I think we all had a friend or so in school that was a little I over the top. That was Mrs. Kim. Holly gets to spend her summer I in SAT classes and Homecoming Dance? Forget about it. Meanwhile, when a column she writes accidentally gets published, Holly goes from being a nobody to being a household name in the school. And along the way she has her three best friends to support her.

I think one of my favorite parts of the story was Holly and her friends and there relationship. Her relationship with her parents could be described as combative on a good day but her friends were just amazing. Some of the stuff that Holly got into was crazy, it could only happen to her. But her friends were right there with her through everything.

So, I already said I didn’t like the beginning, but really got into the book once it got going….. But then there was the end. With out giving anything away, all I will say is it left off kind of abruptly. I sure hope that there is a sequel, cause that is the way the ends felt, no real closure…. Just kind of spitting there fogging, huh?

Overall I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for the humor alone!
Profile Image for Stacy Sabala.
1,056 reviews3 followers
October 11, 2013
Book Review-Since You Asked by Maurene Goo

This story centers around Holly, a fifteen year old Korean American student at Bay High school, who writes a column in the school news paper about surviving her sophomore year. She and her three best friends invite the reader into their lives as teens in a San Diego school throughout the school year. They share their views on all facets of their lives. Its refreshing to see how these four friends stick together.
Holly has to deal with her Korean parents’ way of doing things. She does not deal well if the daily fights and frustration show. She goes on to explain the layout of the school and cliques that she encounters during the year. She enlightens us all how she feels about everything in her life with the sarcasm that only a fifteen year old can pull off.
I loved how the author wrote this story. It depicts an accurate picture of high school and with a humorous twist invites the reader in. It is easy for readers to relate to the characters and what they are dealing with and how they react. There were several parts of the story where I laughed out loud.
Even tough it was written for a younger audience I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think my being a teacher may have been a key factor. I can relate to this setting and plot. I am going to put this on my recommendation wall for my students. I give it a 5 out of 5.
Profile Image for Mandy.
457 reviews46 followers
July 6, 2017
2.5/5. This one's tough, but I can't justify giving it 3 stars (would recommend with reservations) over 2 (would only recommend with MAJOR reservations).

Holly's for sure a grouchy protagonist, but there's a real mean edge to the whole book. There's also an uncomfortable amount of girl hate that goes unchecked (e.g., everyone that Holly doesn't like is a skank/hoe/witch/etc.) I was partly motivated to finish the book to see if that behaviour ever gets addressed, but it unfortunately didn't.

The book feels like it's scratching at the surface of some interesting storylines -- in particular, Holly's constant arguing with her mom over cultural differences hit close to home -- kind of like if this was the first half of a book, except it just ends. Everything does get resolved enough, but it happens all at the last few pages. I would have preferred if the book explored where the characters are at the end a little more.

I'm kind of glad that I read I Believe in a Thing Called Love first, or I might have gone into that one with great trepidation. (Which would have been a shame, since I enjoyed that one much more.)
Profile Image for Rukhsar (rukhsandbooks).
431 reviews10 followers
May 26, 2018
High-school me would have probably loved this book! But current me also liked it quite a bit too.

I actually only started reading this book because I needed a break from some of the more intense books and articles I've been reading and because I've been having really bad nightmares so I needed something fluffy to read in the middle of the night.

This was the perfect YA fluff and break from reality (and other intense books). Will probably read more of Goo's work just for kicks.

Though the main character is Korean, as a child of immigrant parents myself this book was quite relatable.


"“Be good!” she yelled as I walked as rapidly away from the car as possible. Honestly, “Be good”? Sometimes I wondered what in the world my mom thought my life was like when I went to school — did she think I suddenly grew tattoos on my lower back and beat up small children? Seriously. Little did she know how pathetically good I really was."

As usual find more quotes on rukhsandbooks.tumblr.com
January 29, 2014
So. Much. Win!

Thankfully there are blogs which cater to readers seeking more diversity in their books and I came across this one.

A quick read, yet full of fun snark, Since You Asked proves that high school is still hell and parents are a mysterious species that we may never understand (the Fresh Prince was so right). I loved Holly Kim and her group of off-the-radar friends. I know the popular media likes to stereotype Asian and Asian-American characters as smart and socially inept (amongst other horrid tropes) but Holly has a fresh and brash voice that is so relatable for anyone who never understood why high school was/is nonsensical. At its heart this is a story about what it is to be American at the same time being from an immigrant background.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 238 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.